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On the Cover

July-August 2014
Volume 102, Number 4

Carbon nanotubes—interlinked carbon atoms that roll up into microscopic cylinders—may be an important material for tomorrow’s miniature machines. Sometimes the atoms assemble in more than one layer, forming the multiwalled carbon nanotubes like the one shown in longitudinal section on the cover...


FEATURE ARTICLES

Can Skinny Fat Beat Obesity? *

Philip A. Rea, Peter Yin, Ryan Zahalka

Newly discovered in adult mammals, beige fat cells can switch between accumulating fat and burning it, depending on metabolic needs.


Engines Powered by the Forces Between Atoms *

Fabrizio Pinto

By manipulating van der Waals forces, it may be possible to create novel types of friction-free nanomachines, propulsive systems, and energy storage devices.


Why Some Animals Forgo Reproduction in Complex Societies

Peter Buston, Marian Wong

Behaviors of coral reef fishes provide strong support for some major new ideas about the evolution of cooperation.


The Deadly Dynamics of Landslides

Susan W. Kieffer

These major earth-moving events take on a stunning variety of forms.


* access restricted to members and subscribers


SCIENTISTS’ NIGHTSTAND

A Troubling Tome

Greg Laden

A review of A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History, by Nicholas Wade

See all book reviews for this issue


DEPARTMENTS

FROM THE EDITORS

The Science of Narrative

Fenella Saunders

TECHNOLOGUE

Quantum Randomness

If there’s no predeterminism in quantum mechanics, can it output numbers that truly have no pattern?

Scott Aaronson

PERSPECTIVE

The Tensions of Scientific Storytelling

Science depends on compelling narratives.

Roald Hoffmann

ENGINEERING

The Story of Two Houses

Together, a fictional structure from a 19th-century novelette and the author’s real residence tell the intertwined tale of architecture and engineering.

Henry Petroski

COMPUTING SCIENCE

Belles Lettres Meets Big Data

Quantitative analysis of poetry and prose has roots deep in the 19th century.

Brian Hayes

ARTS LAB

A New Language for Ecology

To accurately convey the interdependence among all the agents in an ecological system, we may need to break free of standard scientific discourse.

Robert Louis Chianese

The northern red-shafted flicker spreads out its wingsClick to Enlarge Image

SIGHTINGS

The Real Sun, Unmasked

The Solar Dynamics Observatory produces stunning images while investigating the origins of space storms.

Catherine Clabby

2014-07SightingsFp304.jpgClick to Enlarge Image

SPOTLIGHT

Precision Medicine Takes Aim at Cancer

A new way of analyzing genomic data from tumors may one day allow clinicians to treat each person’s cancer as its own unique disease.

Sandra J. Ackerman

Visiting an Asteroid

An interview with Dante Lauretta about the upcoming launch of NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe along with the challenges and potential payoffs that he and others may face.

Corey S. Powell

Briefings

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

The Truth about Models

Rodents of Unusual Size

When Horses Fly


SIGMA XI TODAY (PDF)


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